COSTA RICA JOURNAL – Driving in Costa Rica has become more dangerous than ever. It is impossible to not to find an accident or a dangerous maneuver occurring.
According to a study by the Consejo de Seguridad Vial (Cosevi) in 2011, poor driver education and few controls are the main problems. So, it’s no coincIdence then that there are so many accidents.
In the past decade, we have a steep increase of drivers on the road, the majority being first time drivers, without experience and a who obtained their driving license through a lax drivers license process.
Getting a drivers license in Costa Rica is as simple as reading a less than 100 page manual and take a three hours driving course.
The written test is made up of 40 questions, some on the mechanical aspects of the operation of a vehicle, the rest without a deep probe on rules of the road.
Following is a quick road test. And few, very few, follow up with additional driving instruction.
Without a comprehensive driving course by professional instruction mandatory, many learn and their bad habits, from other drivers.
An initiative to regulate driving schools is still pending. Many of the instructors are not professional drivers, and without regulation, there is no uniform driving instruction standard; while the 2012 plan to include driver education in schools never went anywhere.
This leads to drivers with poor driving education, with little knowledge of the rules of the road, and bad driving habits.
In a 2011 survey by Cosevi, 40% of drivers interviews considered that some rules are not necessary or do not apply to them and therefore can be broken. A lax and stretched thin police authority to enforce the rule allows these drivers to continue with their habits.
“It’s common to see errors that result in serious accidents, such as improper overtaking, not knowing how to yield or entering the roundabouts in San Jose,” said Germán Valverde, director of Cosevi.
According to Valverde improper overtaking and speeding resulted in 35% of all fatalities last year (2013).
“It is necessary to review the assessment process of drivers. If so many people lose the test, what it means is that these people have not received adequate training. Because if the training was of better quality, the results would seen be in the written or driving test results, ” said Valverde.
“In the streets the supremacy of the individual over the collective is evident. If I’m a car, I don’t care about pedestrians. Much less traffic rules,” said sociologist Carlos Sojo, on what he calls “a power struggle” between drivers.
“The pace of life today, together with the number of vehicles, makes people act this way,” added the expert.
Given this, the solution is government repression, with parts and operating, “when the ideal is more and better driver education,” Sojo said.
In the opinion of the director of the Transit Police, Mario Calderon, “the rules are in place and should be respected.”
He said that “a double standard of drivers on the road. When they are caught in congestion they want to see a traffic official, but when there restrictions or speeding they want them to disappear. ”
With notes from: La Nacion, Cosevi and Policia de Tránsito